Full speed ahead for Project Rudolph preparations

by Laura Rutkowski
Ramstein High School

People of all ages gathered Nov. 4 at the Kaiserslautern Military Community Center to offer their help at a letter writing event for Project Rudolph.

Project Rudolph is an organization devoted to giving gift bags to deployed and deploying service members who will be away from home during the holidays. Forget elves at the North Pole, elves are hard at work in our very own community to spread festive cheer at a time when it is needed most.

Tawny Campbell, the founder of Project Rudolph, first started the organization when her husband, Sgt. Joe Campbell, deployed during the holidays. Campbell said she and her daughter Ceilidha were “alone on Christmas, and when you’re alone, you don’t want other people to be alone either.” This is how the idea of Project Rudolph was born. 

Gift bags consist of a decorated brown lunch bag; two letters (one from an adult and one from a child); a drawing; a poem; a flat, non-breakable Christmas ornament; and an assortment of German and American candy. Erin Kaberline, involved with public relations for Project Rudolph, said there are a lot of Soldiers downrange who don’t receive anything during the holidays, so imagine what a treat the gift bags must be to receive.

“We want the service members to know we care about them,” she said.
In addition, Campbell said the most satisfying aspect of being involved is “seeing the people’s faces when you give them the bag, (knowing) that what you did made a difference to that one person.”

This year, Project Rudolph hopes to collect 5,000 bags in Germany and 10,000 stateside. Drop-off boxes will be located at every Service Credit Union in Germany, including the one located at the KMCC. Community centers will also provide drop-off locations.

There are plenty of chances coming up to be involved with Project Rudolph.
“The organization is in need of adult letters, letters of substance, something that makes the reader feel love and support,” Campbell said. Guidelines for writing letters can be found on the Project Rudolph website at projectrudolph.org.

A letter writing drive and mini bag assembly will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 19 in the KMCC food court. The main bag assembly day is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Rhine Ordnance Barracks Special Events Center.
If you would like to volunteer for upcoming events, e-mail projectrudolphkmc@gmail.com.

If you have an address for a deployed service member and would like them to receive a gift bag, e-mail tawnycampbell@gmail.com.

The Project Rudolph Facebook page can be accessed by searching for “Project Rudolph Germany.”